Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Rainy Weekend in San Antonio -- REALLY!

Memorial Day weekend began with two Tim and Bob performances. Since both featured an unusual sight in these parts -- RAIN -- we needed a bit of luck in getting everything going.

On Friday we performed at Orderup at the Colonnade. it looked threatening when we got there, but we had completely unloaded our equipment and brought it indoors before the rain started. Indoors is the key word in that last sentence, by the way, since it rained on and off throughout the entire evening, but the musicians and their audience stayed dry.

Steve and I gave two songs their San Antonio Tim and Bob Show debut -- the Traveling Wilbury's hit "Handle With Care" and the Ringo Starr classic tale of aging rockers "The No-No Song." Both were well received. Tim and Bob Nationals Casey and Karen showed up, and we made new friends Patricia, Gabriel, and Betty and Mike. Mary Lou was back singing with us, and rocked the house with "This Wheel's on Fire."

On Saturday, we traveled over to Steve and Kathy's house in mid-afternoon to help them load up for our 6 o'clock gig at Beto's Comida Latina. This is usually a Friday fixture for us, but that wasn't what was concerning us. We had been experiencing heavy downpours for a couple of hours before the trip, and Beto's performance space is on their patio! Although we drove through a drizzle to get there, by the time we arrived at Beto's the rain had passed. It stayed dry throughout the evening, and it wasn't until we were driving to Steve and Kathy's for unloading [and a sip of wine] that the rain began again.

Tim and Bob Nationals Gary and Holly were there along with three tables worth of friends including Melissa, Mark, Luke, Danny, Lisa, Forest, Noel and few others. Hillary, Bethany, and Matt were also there, as well as Peggy and her "date" Arlis. Also there were Kathy's fellow cast members Caron and Desi. The early start meant that Kathy could spend the first 40 minutes or so with us before departing for her final performance of Angel Street, and her buds wanted to hear her and us, of course.

We had a great time playing to a crowd that -- for the largest part -- came there specifically to hear us. Steve got his electric out and got off more than a few scorching solos. His three choruses of "Raccoon Rumble-seat" got roars of applause from some listeners about 1/3 of my age! Coolness.

All in all, another fine weekend. We have more gigs in the weeks ahead, of course, but it's great to have the whole band back together again. You'll find a list of our upcoming gigs HERE . And, while you're perusing our web site, stop HERE and tell us what you think!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Of Mud, Cherries, and Lavender Lemonade

The third weekend of May was one the entire band had been looking forward to. With Mary Lou out of town recently and Kathy in her play, it had been a long time since we could exploit all the voices available to us. And here we were -- all four of us -- on the road to the Hill Country to play at Becker Vineyards for BOTH Saturday and Sunday. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, when we left San Antonio on Saturday, May was already half gone and no measurable rain had fallen in our area. We were already under severe drought restrictions and the temperatures were at July/August levels. So when we set off under overcast skies and somewhat cool [73 degrees] temperatures, at 0930, we had hopes for a cooler and less strenuous day. Ha!

We were on IH10 approaching Comfort when the skies opened up. The parched landscape must have thought it was dreaming as wave after wave of rain fell out of blackened skies. We were following Steve and Kathy, and we really wanted to exit the freeway when they did, but the car preferred to go straight, it seemed. Hydroplaning along on a Saturday morning is not what I wanted to do, especially with a back seat and trunk full of musical equipment. After a second or two, one of our wheels found the road surface and we were able to make the exit -- a special shout out to Subaru's all-wheel drive.

When we got to the vineyard, there was already a huge crowd. It was a well advertised weekend, Becker's annual Lavender Festival, and the grounds were full of vendors and the wine was already flowing by the time we got there. Even after crawling along at 45 mph for the better part of an hour, we were still early. We noticed immediately that our previous performance space was claimed, so we drove around back to park our cars and find out where we were to set up. Steve and I dropped off the ladies to get more information, and pressed on to pull up in the loading spaces in the rear. There was a tractor blocking our way, so Steve made a turn into the vendor parking lot and immediately sank into the mud. It seems that the sandy soil that is so perfect for growing quality grapes turns to impassible mud under the slightest provocation.

And so it was that 3 50-somethings and one 60-something, emptied two cars of a ton of musical equipment in a driving rain while walking through ankle-deep mud. After a few failed attempts to get Steve's Mazda unstuck, we set off to find our performance space. Nichole had the perfect place in mind, but it was soaking and, after some improvisation, we set up in the tasting room -- the worst possible place for an amplified band. We persevered, though, and we seemed to please the patrons who most definitely did not want to go outside and sample the weather. Once we were finished, it was time to stow our gear in the cask room, have a look at Steve's now rescued car, and head back to San Antonio for the evening.

Kathy had a performance that night at Harlequin Dinner Theater in Angel Street, and the rest of the band were in the audience, along with Tim and Bob National Rich. Mary Lou said that the play was the best she had ever seen at that venue. Considering she watched me perform in a half dozen plays there and performed in a few there herself, this was quite a compliment. Kathy's performance was sublime.

After a night's rest, back we went for the second day at Becker Vineyards. As eventful as Saturday's performance was, that's just how eventful Sunday's was -- but this time for very good reasons. It was cloudy and cool -- the ladies borrowed jackets from a nearby vendor -- but there was no rain. For this reason, the customers were out on the grounds and so were we. After a nourishing lunch that included some amazingly tasty cherries Kathy picked up for the trip, we began our two-hour set. We made sure it was as chock-full of 4-parters as possible. And we sounded GOOD. Of special note is Mary Lou, who smiled and ripped into "Midnight Blue" with gusto, even though I played it in the wrong key!

We got lots of compliments, sold a couple of CDs and were thrilled to be visited by Tim and Bob Nationals Vicki, Linda, and Loyce. Vicki really enjoyed our music. It was a thrill to watch her sing along and dance in her own special style.

After breaking down and loading up our cars, we took the time to visit some of the vendors. Being as it was a lavender festival, the plant was infused in almost everything on offer. We sampled some lavender vanilla ice cream, lavender peach tea, and even lavender sangria. My favorite was the lavender lemonade. Tasty.

It had certainly been a tale of two days, but we left Becker with good feelings for the wonderful location, the friendly people, and the excellent wine. We hope to play there again soon.

We're back in San Antonio for the next several weekends; You'll find a list of our upcoming gigs HERE . And, while you're perusing our web site, stop HERE and tell us what you think!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tim and Bob at Lake Houston AGF Gig

On the morning of Saturday, May 9, Steve and I loaded up his Mazda with four guitars, a dozen or so music books, a few snacks, some unbreakable [evidently] picks, capos, music stands, guitar cords, implements of percussion, bottled water, and a couple of bottles of The Elixir of Life [also known as Diet Dr. Pepper]. Once suitably packed, we were off to IH10 to travel east to Houston – or, more specifically, to a Marina on Lake Houston on the outskirts of Humble, Texas.

What could possibly cause two reasonably sane and reasonably mature gentleman to give up much of their weekend to drive 450 miles round trip? Well, there was food, there was drink, there was music, but most of all there was the fellowship of some of the Texas membership of the Acoustic Guitar Forum. Once again Joe [The Guitarman] and his wife Vickie were the hosts of the annual Lake Houston AGF jam. These jams feature fantastic BBQ chicken, spicy crawfish, corn-on-the-cob, and baked potatoes – all supplied by the hosts. Participants bring soft drinks, desserts, help out with the cooking, or – in the case of Steve and me – by providing song books for jamming. And, of course, the reason for our being there was the reason for the very existence of the AGF: the love of looking at, admiring, handling, and playing some wonderful acoustic guitars – and one electric [Steve can’t leave his Epiphone at home, after all].

At The Guitarman’s request, Steve and I started the music off by plugging in to the “open mic” and singing a few songs. After Stetson and Tania followed us up there to sing and play, it was time for food and yakking, for meeting new friends, and greeting old ones. And then came the circle jam. Using books that contained about 25 of the songs that are Tim and Bob Show staples, about a dozen of us grabbed guitars and traded licks. Stetson's wife and Aggie 182 took care of the percussion beautifully. A highlight for Steve and me was franchelB’s arrival. Francis knows more songs than we do, and he can play any instrument we can think of better than either of us ever hope to. Most fun.

The highlight for me was hanging with Chris and Mo [Antonio Salieri & Mo’sArt], and borrowing her Alvarez 12-string. Steve got to play a lot of strange guitars, and I got to do an old country song with yet another Steve [Stetson]. Wildbill962 stopped helping Joe with the cooking long enough to grab a guitar and play with us, JNowlin provided some tasty leads, Tania helped immeasurably with the vocals, and Aggie182 contributed a weird but highly useful box that was the key to the gates of percussion heaven.

It was well after 6 when we left, and it was 11:30 in the evening by the time I got back to my house. I’d racked my voice up singing [shouting] so badly I had to sit out choir the next morning, but it was well worth it.

Thanks to Joe and Vickie for hosting, and for everyone who was there to make it a grand day out. Next year, we hope to get the whole band to attend. Here’s the final list of AGF members and players:

The Guitarman [wife Vickie, son Shawn, and Uncle Floyd], Mo’sArt, Antonio Salieri, franchelB [and family], JNowlin, Larry H. in Texas, Stetson [and wife and daughter], Aggie182 [and his wife], Tania, wildbill1962 & [and wife], and Phuufme [Steve], DonBob [Don]